Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Night Special – Jay Hunter Morris is Siegfried: Nothung, Nothung!

I watched the Met Siegfried again the other night. It turns out I like Wagner a lot better than I thought I did. My Mom developed an aversion to Wagner from years of sitting in the middle of the second violin section, and I think I picked up on her feeling. Mom also taught me that Bach is the voice of God, so I generally trust her judgement. But, as it turns out, I kinda like Wagner (Then again, I play cello, not 2nd violin).
However, I do think, like Bruckner, Herr Wagner could have used a good editor. (Complain all you want about Bruckner's various editors, but listen to the original version of any one of his symphonies and tell me there isn't superfluous material in there! But I digress.) I mean, does he really need 90 minutes to establish who Siegfried is and why Mime adopted him (both the real reason, and the reason he tells Siegfried), and for Mime and Wotan to play Jeopardy together?  Probably not, but the payoff of course is the scene below: Siefried (Jay Hunter Morris) forging his father's sword, Nothung. (I found it sort of charming when Siegfried asked Mime the name of the sword. Of course all weapons have names, right?)

Nothung! Nothung! OK, OK, we get it! 
I've never forged a sword, but frankly I think even this scene goes on a bit long. That being said, Mr. JHM impressed me again. His voice is strong and he sings with passion and conviction. His actions and reactions in conversation with other characters were believeable. His portrayal of an impetuous teenager was funny and charming, and he even threw in a few "Dudley Do-Right" grins. (If it's wrong to laugh during a Wagner opera, I don't wanna be right.) I realize the comment about JHM in my previous Siegfried post may have sounded a bit negative, and I didn't mean it to be. He has a wonderful, powerful voice, and I am only worried that he might blow it out singing too many Siegfrieds. I am sure JHM and is coach have already thought of this, so I will try not to lie awake all night worrying about it. (He is Pinkerton in an Australian Opera Madama Butterfly. That should be good!)

I have a greater appreciation of the Machine now. All it's configurations and permutations with the cool projections on it were pretty eye-catching. I do still worry about the singers though. JHM did a good job of leaping and prancing all over the place, but I wasn't so sure about Bryn Terfel and the rest. On the other hand, I am sure if there had been a major disaster in the performance, they wouldn't keep rebroadcasting it. So again, I'll try not to lie awake worrying about it.

Speaking of laughing during Wagner, did anyone else giggle during Renee Fleming's intro when she referred to a scheming Mime? Or have I just watched way too many Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes?

Other Met Ring Posts:
  Wagner's Dream, or Bob's Machine?

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